Friday, January 11, 2008

Too Many Words

As part of a project I am trying to put together a manual for agency instructors on this new way of teaching.  Most of it draws from a previously unpublished piece about 'principles.' I started writing that years ago, trying to put into words why some stuff worked, why other stuff didn't. 
The big mystery was how I pulled stuff off that bigger, stronger people couldn't. 'Principles' was trying to lay down the core ideas of efficiency- what it is and how to make it work.
In the course of the last several years reading, training, fighting, I've observed a lot of things, put together some clues.  I think about conflict in a way that only a handful of people seem to share.  But the way we think is useful and so in addition to the Principles there is now a section on Concepts.
'Concepts' is just a list of the stuff that I/we* think are critical to understanding what goes on in a fight.

But I wonder, right now if I am going off on a familiar and useless path.  How much does it really help?  I believe it does, I believe that if you understand predator dynamics you can prevent things that you otherwise couldn't.  I believe that you need to recognize a freeze before you can break out...
But I've read an awful lot of theoretical stuff and wondered, "That's interesting, but will it make any difference to know that when something slams into the back of my head?"

Maybe, like technique, the Concepts need to be absorbed and stripped down to their essentials. I do this most of the time: not thinking of concepts or principles but acting in accordance with them.  So that ability exists.  Can it be taught?
Sometimes I feel that words get in the way of understanding, that if you learn all of the concepts you learn the names and can discuss them and that lets you think that you know them and that lets you feel comfortable enough to just stop, keeping them in your brain but never internalizing them into your bone and muscle and tendon.
So here is the insecurity and self-doubt of a teacher. Can I really take the things from my head and get them to you deeply enough?  Will I ever know?

*I seem to do most of the conceptualizing all the writing, but then I kick it back to a few people, notably Mac, for a check on what I have missed or misunderstood.


Anonymous said...

What you're grappling with is the fact that we have two brains. Or more precisely, two information processing systems. One of them uses words, but is full of stuff like preconceived ideas, intellectual frameworks, and it's very slow. In short, it can get in the way. Call this the thinking brain.

The other is all feeling and intuition and reaction. It works very quickly, but it doesn't know what words are and it doesn't know the difference between your girlfriend pouncing on you and a mugger pouncing on you. Call this the body brain.

Both have a job to do in combat. The thinking brain likes to try to do the body brain's job or at least interfere. When this happens, body mechanics break down, become very choppy. One of the main points of the training I've had is to get it to stop that.

The body brain is more likely to simply ignore tasks that it is unsuited for, or to misclassify situations. And when that happens, innocent people get shot, etc.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, and thus the third brain - the synergistic and coherent amalgamation of all four brains (lizard, primate, feeler, thinker); this brain, developed through awareness training, contains all the information, concepts, principles and skills needed for success in any endeavor. Know then do, or you can do a bunch, learning the hard way and grind your way to knowing. Knowing first is easier, I think; then the doing is much more satisfying and productive.

Steve Perry said...

The map, as we have gone back and forth a few times, isn't the territory; however, the map might could help you find the territory.

Intellect is not motion, but sometimes it can put you on the right road.

If for no other reason than to help you clarify your own thoughts, it's good to write them down; even if you can't convey completely to somebody with words what you want them to do, it is, now and again, a useful tool.